Miles covered: mm 256 – mm 249 (8 miles)
Post by Alyssa Thomas, Stewardship AmeriCorps
We get more and more secluded the farther downstream we go, and it somehow gets better too! We drove down to the confluence of the Grand River and scouted for camp spots along the way. The best spot we found was 3 miles upstream of the Grand, with plenty of trashy spots right around us. We set up camp here, and called this home from September 19 to September 24!
After helping us get to the next camp, the Lucia left us to work an event with Paddle MO that Monday morning (9/20). While some of us headed to the Brunswick boat ramp, Linda and Nancy stayed behind to shovel out a boat stuck in the mud by our camp. Impressive work from the ladies! The crew went back out and picked up two tires, 9 bags and a fridge upstream from camp. We all prepared for a huge storm coming, with gusts up to 60mi/hr and heavy rain. Luckily, our sandbar was tucked away in a mini blowout between two dikes. We used the Flying Nun augers to hold down our popup tents. An amazing lightning show it was though! We found cooler weather for the next day, which made the day’s project less grueling.
Just a mile downstream, we spotted a huge cistern tank. We decided that we needed to get this off the river’s bank, so we set off to some trash spots and the tank that morning (9/21). What we thought was 500 gallons at the time, me, Matt Britt, and Steve Olson spent over 3 hours digging all the dirt/mud out. Talk about a bonding experience! As we got about halfway, the mud was an “oogly” consistency. Call it losing our minds, but we celebrated every time we struck the bottom of the tank. The rest of the crew came back from another trash spot with loads of trash and helped us finish dig out the rest of the oogly mud. We collected 28 bags and other large objects that day! We got back to camp and Rob Nix brought a beautifully prepped meal that was slowly cooked over the fire. A much-needed hearty meal after a long day! Thank you, Rob!
The next morning (9/22), we headed back to the tank to finish the job, and we found loads of more trash within 2 miles of our camp. We bounced back and forth, staging the trash in 3 different piles to prepare for various trash hauls back up the Grand River to Brunswick. Keep in mind, we only had 1 boat! The Saskia is our slowest/heaviest plate boat, but she is mighty! We collected about 32 more bags that day. Since we only had 1 boat, but so much trash, we needed to get a little creative…
We woke up the next morning (9/23) and met a kayaker on a mission. His name is Graham Johnasen and has been paddling downstream since July! He is on a sabbatical from the Sierra Club, raising awareness of the negative impacts of coal fired power plants along the Missouri River during his 2341-mile paddle from Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis. We gave him coffee and fresh fruits to help with his voyage further downstream. We wish Graham best of luck and be sure to check out this link for more information! After our nice chat with Graham, we prepped for our trash hauls.
This is where we got creative. Remember that boat Linda and Nancy dug out? Well, it was in pretty good shape, with no cracks on the bottom. Matt made a plug, tested it out, and it floated! We put our lightest trash bags and other large objects in it, then tied it up along side the Saskia. This saved us an extra trip for sure. We drudged 7 miles with a wake that could compete with a barge. After all the hauls, we totaled our trash bag count at 80 bags! And that cistern tank? Rob Nix found a label on it and found that it was more than double the gallons we originally predicted, so the digging trio actually got about 1500 gallons worth of oogly mud out of that tank. Oh, and we filled the 30-yard dumpster.
Later that day (9/23) we attempted to get the Harliner back, but it still didn’t work. As hard of a decision it was to make, we had to cancel our cleanup in Glasgow for the upcoming Saturday. With that, we ended up keeping camp where it was and made the next day another cleanup day for the crew, and moved downstream on the day we were having the cleanup.
The crew went out the next morning (9/24) and cleaned up at the mouth of the Grand River, bringing back 11 more bags and a few other large items, making our grand total 91 bags! Kevin, Nancy, and I stayed behind to catch up on computer work and some house work at camp. We got ready back at camp for dinner and enjoyed a little campfire for the night before our voyage the next morning.
That was our last morning at our blowout sandbar camp (9/25). We waited for the sun to dry out camp and started packing up. We headed upstream the Grand River to Brunswick one last time, said goodbye to our Shift 6 crew, dropped up a few people to caravan our fleet to Glasgow, then headed downstream! We headed down to the Jameson Island, at the bottom of the chute, and set up camp. More trash to come..
Linda Coffman is a Clean Sweep Crew core member. She is a prime example of a strong woman! She has participated in the MR340 13 times, competed in weightlifting, and an avid runner. Throughout the Clean Sweep, Linda has done an amazing job with Steve starting our days with coffee and breakfast. She also keeps record of where we are finding our trash on our master map! She has lived in Columbia, MO and worked at Walnut Creek Day School. Banjo can always be found following Linda around! Photo by Alyssa Thomas